QR code practical uses

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I went to a WOSSAT (Wellington Open Source Show And Tell) meeting last night. Like a number of tech talks I go to in the evenings the office building has gone into lockdown. You need a swipecard to access the floor via lift etc. At the lift doors was a sign with a QR code (Quick Response Code) which, when you scanned would set up for sending someone a text to tell them to let people into the building. I was remarking on the interesting uses of QR codes with a gentleman beside me as we waited for the lift and he said he used it for his home wifi. If a guest came to the house he just flicked his mobile screen to a background that just had a QR code on it. I was impressed. The video below shows an example.

There was a break during the talk and I was talking with the organizer about their QR code for the wifi, which they had on a wall, so when you scanned it connected your phone to their wifi, just by scanning and pressing ok on your phone. SO EASY.

He then took his phone out and showed me another QR code, and when I scanned that it gave me his vCard and details. In fact his was a link to a web page with his photo, business logo, address phone/email details and a link to his vCard and a Map.

In this case, the QR code link is updatable, so no need to make a new QR Code, just change the content at the other end.

So you can have a static and a dynamic QR Code. Static meaning the data wont change, dynamic meaning the QR code stays but the information at the other end can be changed.

QR Code tools

QR Code Generator. This free website goqr.me is a great one for setting up personal data stuff like your wifi password and vCard. Static QR codes generally (unless you are using a website).

On pressing download you can choose foreground/background colours and file output.

After creating a couple of QR codes, I wanted to test them out, so after making and downloading them from the website I emailed them to myself so I could save them on the phone. So, I tried to display them as a wallpaper on a blank screen on my android phone. Not as easy as you’d think. I ended up downloading an app from Google play- Five Wallpapers. See video:

I had to put an app icon on the empty page otherwise I couldn’t use it. I found this app to be a bit laggy, it works when you swipe one way, but sometimes the wallpaper doesn’t change when you go back the other way. So another screen will have the QRcode as a wallpaper until you swipe back and forth again.

This led me to a bit of a dilemma. I had downloaded a number of QR codes, and THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME. I could only distinguish them by their density. So, how do I use the scanner on my phone to scan the barcode on my phone? The instructions to open the box are in the box!!! Actually, there is an app for that. QR Code RW Scanner on Google Play.

If you take a screenshot of you phone (mine is off/on button & Sound Down held together) then open QR Code RW and go and find the image, it will scan the QR code on that for you.

That brings me to a point about QR Codes, they dont usually have any information attached. So I have been taking the downloaded QR codes and adding some information to them with an image editor. In the export from above, the PNG files were really small, but they did not edit well and pixelated and were harder to scan after adding some text in Snagit, so I stayed with Jpg file types.

I then wondered if you could have a link to an image file (eg a barcode) on your mobile phone screen. This is not an obvious one. Usually on your phone you have apps on your screens , not individual files. So I had to look and found a video on how to do that, see below. I have a Huawei phone and that has its own file manager, that allows you to create a shortcut to the file.

So an alternative to editing the image itself is to have a clear naming convention for the files, not like the one below. I have since renamed the files as I have 2 vCards and a Wifi login so I have put them all in a folder on the screen, so handy to know where they are and easy to access.

Dynamic sites

This is a free QR code dynamic site creator you can use for QR codes. You need to log in to see the QR codes that you’ve created and want to change the content. I saw it on this chaps video that I though was quite interesting:

I’m not sure if the RememberTheMilk app has a QR code creator or how that particular bit works and how you share it with others, anyway you can just use Google Keep for that. I do like his use of events to put into his calendar from barcodes by the door. I’ll have to think on that one.

Anyway, back to dynamic site creator above. The Free Text you can add a list of items that you need to do , if this barcode was by the door and you scanned it on leaving, then that would be updated on your phone. It would open a web page with the list you created. Nice concept, the only difference between this and maybe a webpage on your own site is it has a shortened URL. You still have to log-in to alter the list of information that would then update on your phone. So not an elegant workflow. But….

You could use the idea to make bitly web address (actually, I used cutt.ly, so they are short) barcodes for your properties and have specific pages for those properties, that when people go to site and scan the barcode they see the latest information on that property.

If you use dynamic tables on that page from a database then it will have the most updated information available. You can put the QR code on letterbox or in Meter box so its not that obvious. Try it out below:

End comment

I like the idea of vCards. As a freelancer I’m usually never around long enough to get printed cards, and frankly I always loose peoples contact details. If not on my phone or contact list, then sayonara. So when people do ask for my contact details I never have anything to offer them and scribble some details on a bit of paper. VCards will sort that out quite nicely.

Dynamic QR codes are something I may explore a bit further, especially in relation to my Property Information website, I see some real practical uses with that. I’ve had a wee test with that above. Its actually quite a cool solution. You can have a copy on your website so if you need to make another QR code because the old one was too faded, then its easy to use the image.

I have just got a freezer (at my daughters suggestion) and after watching lots of videos about prepping meals in bulk I crated an inventory using Google Sheets. I can just put a barcode onto the freezer so I can scan when I take out meals to update it. See this post about the freezer meals. I just tested this out, some of the URL shorteners had dots in wrong area and the dot matrix on the label maker struggled with scanning them. Also becoming more familiar with label maker programme, it works better when it creates the actual QR code rather than bringing in an image QR code and trying to fit it on the label tape. Another lesson learned.

I need to explore SMS messages, geolocation, phone, email and events to calendars. I can see a practical use for SMS message at front door, so that if courier comes when I’m out they could just scan the barcode and send a text message or ring. The events one I’ll need to think about, but I can see the email one as useful for maintenance stuff sent to property manager highlighting a fault.

I’m happy with my wifi connect and also my vCards. Well worth playing with.


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